In the early 1880s, an informal group of canoers began to operate out of an old one-room oyster shed at the foot of Duke of Gloucester Street. Later in 1886, this group would organize themselves into the Severn Boat Club of the City of Annapolis before transitioning into the Annapolis Yacht Club (AYC) between 1935 and 1936. During this period, momentum began to shift from rowing to sailing and in September of 1936, people from all over the state participated in a sail boat regatta held in honor of the Club’s 50th Anniversary.
75 years after that first regatta and 125 years after a group of gentleman started the Severn Boat Club, the Annapolis Yacht Club has transformed from a modest canoe club to a powerhouse in the sailing world and a staple in the community, drawing ample crowds for its Wednesday Night Race series. In the last 25 years, AYC has hosted more than 50 major national and international regattas including two J/22 World Championships, 13 National Offshore One-Design (NOOD) Regattas, a Star Class World Championship, 3 Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championships, and two Etchells North American Championships, just to name a few.
On June 24 through June 26, the Annapolis Yacht Club tipped its sails to yet another milestone, celebrating its 125th Anniversary with an entire weekend of jubilation and remembrance. The clubhouse was decorated in anniversary attire and new display cases were installed to enshrine Racing trophies and treasured items from the Club’s historic past.
The festivities kicked off Friday night with a Tropical Happy Hour that attracted almost 400 attendees. For this event, the clubhouse was transformed into a tropical paradise where members enjoyed complementary beverages, hors d’oeuvres, and a Hawaiian shirt contest.
During the day on Saturday, the Club hosted a Water Carnival that offered fun for all ages. The weather couldn’t have provided a better backdrop as families stopped by the Annex for games, a cookout, and sailing races. Kids fished the docks and kept cool on the blowup water slide while adults enjoyed cold beverages and mingled with fellow members in the shade. The carnival winded down with a commemorative time capsule burial (to be unearthed in 25 years), and an awards ceremony for the Fishing Tournament, Harbor 20 and Herreshoff regattas, and the heated Marlinspike competition hosted by Commodore William Torgerson.
The signature event of the weekend was Saturday night’s Gala Anniversary Party with close to 300 people occupying all three levels of the clubhouse. Honored guests included Mayor Joshua J. Cohen, Navy Captain and assistant to the Superintendant of the United States Naval Academy Steve McAlearney, and Commodore Bill Peterson from Chesapeake Yacht Club. The anniversary celebration came to a close on Sunday with a relaxing Jazz Brunch featuring renowned local musician, BJ Doyle.
The weekend was a great success thanks to an impressive turnout and the hard work of staff and many volunteers led by AYC Board Member Howard Brooks. With 125 years now a thing of the past, AYC looks forward to its next monumental anniversary as it continues to provide an enjoyable lifelong experience for members, their families and guests, and the entire sailing community.